We like this. No relevence at all otherwise.
Long drive today, but easy enough and lots to see and keep us amused along the way. Stayed the night in another of those campsite pods, absolutely brilliant site with huge numbers of camper vans.
We’d intended to check out a place we used to ‘rough camp’ in days gone by, but the land has been cleared and is now lorry parking. Shame as we’d have stayed near there if we could, bound to have been people we know there. Lunch in Javea, or Xabia if you insist on the Valencian spelling, both versions are on every signpost, and appear to be pronounced the same was always going to be on the agenda as we have been calling and staying here for years whenever we drive the coastal route through Spain.
This year, however,things are different as a major fire a couple of weeks ago devastated the area and a man Marigold spoke to while ordering a coffee – she does this – advised against going as we would be upset by the ‘devastation.’ Now, we do like a good devastation, but in this case we accepted the advice of this sage and moved on.
Shame as Javea is lovely. A great lump of granite looms over the town, dividing it from the more downmarket Denia and it’s very much a two-centre place. There’s the old port, and equally old town at the back, with rows of pavement cafes and restaurants and e setting for diners is spectacular, right at the water’s edge.
A mile up the road is the immaculately maintained playa de Arenal, a perfect crescent of gorgeous sand with yet more shops and restaurants, some of them very swish indeed. We’ve walked both beach and port area many times and it never disappoints. One aspect of the location confuses simple souls like me. Having lived for many years on the Med, I’m used to villas and apartments facing South, for maximum sunshine and also a sea view. In Javea and Denia, the sun is on your back as you face the sea. No big deal, but as I say, for simple souls…
We found an interesting café for lunch, can’t remember exactly where it was now, but they offered a range of salads for six euros. The weather is hot and our bodies are our temples so we thought this sounded perfect. The young waitress must have been auditioning for the part of ‘Spain’s sulkiest teenager’ in a TV series. She took our, very easy and uncomplicated order – two salads, the first two on the menu card, how hard can that be? – with much pursing of lips and laboriously entered the details onto an iPad that appeared to have been run over by a bus.
An older, equally sulky woman, possibly her mother, came out and made us repeat the order – still two salads, one of them and one of them, while pointing to the menu card. She frowned and wandered off down the street to pick up an elderly and nearly bald cat and took it away, presumably into the kitchen. We looked at each other. Could it be we had made the wrong choice of restaurant from the mere twenty or so on offer? Surely not.
Drinks came, eventually. I’d ordered a Diet Coke, but ordinary ‘full-hit’ Coke was produced. Marigold had asked for tonic water and water arrived, just water, not tonic. Oh well, these things happen. I changed my order to fizzy water and we sat back to await our salads.
We waited a long time. No actual cooking is involved, so why the delay, we wondered. Just as Marigold was developing a full-on sulk to rival that of the waitress, our meals arrived. The waitress plonked two plates on the table, scowled at us and everyone else in the area, and scarpered. My tuna salad contained perhaps three tiny strips of tuna, half a tomato and a couple of limp fingers of tinned asparagus laying on a vast bowl of lettuce. Poor but not the worst ever meal, you may imagine, but only because I have yet to mention the drenching, drizzle is far too inadequate a word, of Balsamic vinegar. A whole bottle of the stuff, surely! Marigold’s ‘salad’ was even worse, a bowl of black slime being the kindest description.
Yes, I know we should have refused the meal, made a great fuss, but we’re British so we did what everybody else on the terrace was doing: nothing. The poor couple at the table next to us, Swedish and elderly, were practically in tears. We are guests in this country and this meal is certainly not typical of Spain. Guests don’t make a fuss. We left the exact money on the table, no tip obviously, and took our custom elsewhere.
I still feel I should have made a great scene and surely some fellow diners would have backed me up, but what would be the point? Nothing would change and the owners would still carry on serving awful food to customers. Even worse, they fondly imagine they are offering culinary masterpieces to the world at large. Either that or they have a glut of Balsamic vinegar and its sell-by date is overdue.
Hope we’re not turning into moaning Brits. We see them everywhere we go and are, not often but often enough, ashamed to be considered kindred spirits merely by accident of birthplace. No, we don’t moan, often, and even when we do it’s soon forgotten. Life’s too short, right? Seize the Day!